Meet The Woman Behind Nola’s Artwork In Netflix's 'She’s Gotta Have It'
Human Interest

Meet The Woman Behind Nola’s Artwork In Netflix's 'She’s Gotta Have It'

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been caught up with the Nola-isms of Spike Lee’s latest joint brought to us in part by Netflix, She’s Gotta Have It.

The series’ protagonist Nola Darling gives me “Confidently Lost” vibes à la Sabrina Claudio and SZA, intermingled with a hint of the “Unapologetic” air that we get to love and herald Riri for. Watching her live a life that’s her own with no concern of public opinion is inspiring. I see pieces of myself in her. And as a fellow creative, what she chose as an outlet was just as intriguing to me as watching her peel back the layers and indulge in the different aspects of her sexuality.

Nola’s craft of choice is painting. And the woman behind Nola’s incredibly adorned canvases in real life is artist and illustrator Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. Tatyana is probably even more known for a different creation of hers, an international art project inspired by rampant gender-based street harassment, aptly titled “Stop Telling Women to Smile.”

A turning point for Nola’s character, and a turning point in the series that offers a contrast from the She’s Gotta Have It film, is when Nola is almost assaulted by a stranger on her way home. The attack invokes something in her and leads to her character starting a street art campaign similar to the real-life one created by Tatyana.

In fact, according to an interview with the show’s star DeWanda Wise in the NY Post, Spike Lee saw a piece of the public art series and went to Instagram to find the person behind it. There, he found Tatyana. “All of Nola’s work in the series is painted by her,” DeWanda said. “Nola’s street campaign is in direct homage to Tatyana.”

DeWanda also touched on Tatyana’s work and what men can take away from it in an interview with Cassius:

“I’m excited about guys watching it to see where they find themselves. Nola’s artwork is based on a real artist’s street campaign ‘Stop Telling Women to Smile.’ Men don’t really understand [that street harassment] is problematic. But they are telling women how to express themselves and that they’re only pleasing if they’re in a good mood. There are these small things, habits that we shed light on in the show that feel innocent, but we would all be served if we were a little more self-aware.”

The “Stop Telling Women to Smile” project was born in the fall of 2012 with the purpose of uplifting the voices of women and helping them to feel empowered in a space where they are often made to feel objectified, small, and dehumanized at the hands of men who project unwanted advances onto them. It was bold and powerful, and five years later, still makes an impact. Not only in Brooklyn where it began, but all over the world.

A woman doesn’t owe a man any part of her. Not even the polite contrivances of a smile.

Among her many accolades since bringing the project to the world, Tatyana is a recipient of the 2015 Forbes 30 Under 30 honor, regarded as one of Brooklyn’s most influential people, and has received countless profiles by publications like NPR, the New YorkTimes, and BET. Her latest accomplishment has been working alongside Spike in the She’s Gotta Have It Netflix series as Art Consultant, in addition to bringing Nola’s creations to life at the hand of her own skills and gift as an artist.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Tatyana’s work on She’s Gotta Have It, now streaming on Netflix.

Follow the Stop Telling Women to Smile movement on Instagram and for more information about Tatyana, check out her website and Instagram.

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Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.

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